Category: News

AUKUS – The Bridge Tank in Conversation with Frank Wisner

Ambassador Frank Wisner, former USA under Secretary of Defense, puts AUKUS in context: a technological grouping of like-minded nations in front of China’s assertiveness, while remaining open to dialogue with China, and collaboration with Europe, India and others.

This conversation was conducted following a webinar, co-hosted by The Bridge Tank and the Maritime Research Center.

The Bridge Tank and the Maritime Research Center co-organized a webinar on: “Australia, United Kingdom and United States (AUKUS): A New Perspective based on the Underwater Domain Awareness (UDA) Framework”

On June 30th, The Bridge Tank and the Maritime Research Center (MRC) co-organized a webinar titled “Australia, United Kingdom and United States (AUKUS): A New Perspective based on the Underwater Domain Awareness (UDA) Framework”. This event aimed at bringing together the defense industry, maritime strategists, policy makers and others, to be able to reach out and build policy priority for the UDA framework both at the national and regional level. The interactions sought to strengthen the User-Industry-Academic partnership and encourage joint acoustic capacity and capability building at the national and regional level.

The importance of this webinar was to discuss the strategic, military and even political evolution of AUKUS 9 months after the creation of this alliance and also how the UDA framework can contribute? The event was planned to entail the participants’ point of view and shared their experiences about the policy issues, technological means, innovative tools and measures, geopolitics, geoeconomics, organizations aspects both nationally and globally.

This virtual round table gathered high ranking guests.

First, the Amb Y K Sinha is an Indian diplomat who belongs to the Indian Foreign Services and is the former High Commissioner to UK & Sri Lanka. After retiring from foreign services, he was first appointed as Central Information Commissioner on 1 January 2019 and was subsequently sworn in as the Chief Information Commissioner of India on 7 November 2020. He opened the webinar by giving an overview of the geopolitical context in the new global order. He highlighted that the security aspect is prominent and it is important to consider it in order to avoid any ripple effect in every sectors. He also mentioned that India is ready to provide support to neighborhood.

Secondly, Dr (Cdr) Arnab Das is an ex Naval officer with 2 decades of active services and PhD holder from Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Delhi with specialization in Underwater Acoustics. He has worked on several projects and has a plethora of publications to his credit. Dr Das is the author of a book titled “Marine Eco-concern and its Impact on the Indian Maritime Strategy”, which was supported by the Indian Maritime Foundation and was published in February 2017. He insisted on that fact that the UDA is particularly meaningful given the AUKUS alliance has a strong submarine dimension. Geopolitical evolution and crises remind us of UDA importance. The underwater domain, or even, the maritime domain awareness is rarely debated in international discussions.

Thirdly, Vice Admiral A R Karve is a retired Indian Navy Vice Admiral. Param Vishisht Seva Medal (PVSM) and Ati Vishisht Seva Medal (AVSM) were awarded to Vice Admiral AR Karve. He last served as the 27th Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief Southern Naval Command. His presentation highlighted the strategic aspects of the region. He has highlighted the need to ensure stability in the region face to the expansion of the Chinese maritime influence, in particular the expansion of Chinese submarines. He has also emphasized that several initiatives and tools exist to ensure stability, but that more needs to be done, notably concerning the UDA. He concluded by saying that the AUKUS and the QUAD can contribute to maritime stability and promote the UDA.

Fourth, Mr. Vishal Thapar is the Group Editorial Head at Businessworld. He was formerly associated with Hindustan Times, and prominent news channels CNN-IBN and NewsX. He is the founder-editor of armingindia.com, India’s first portal on the business and politics of India’s defense trade. He gave an analysis of the international agenda, of the solutions to be put forward, particularly in terms of technology, but also, of the Chinese context in the region.

Last but not least, Dr. Joël Ruet, President of The Bridge Tank, concluded the webinar by developing a series of open questions to be raised in further webinars or close door discussions, insisting on identifying the right format to dialogue and the importance of technology to be rethought.

This webinar was conducted by Ms. Malaurie Le Bail, Analyst and program coordinator at The Bridge Tank, in the continuity of the project on the blue economy in the Bay of Bengal. This event was another opportunity to keep the dialogue going on maritime issues and on the Indo-Pacific with the MRC.

This webinar was very comprehensive and educational with high quality exchanges. All the panelists agreed on the fact that the MRC is playing a great role in pushing the concept of UDA.

Please find here the concept note of the webinar for more details.

UN ocean conference: our issue brief on blue economy in the Bay of Bengal: common issues, shared expertise?

On the occasion of the UN Ocean conference in Lisbon, co-organized with the Governments of Kenya and Portugal, The Bridge Tank and the French Development Agency are pleased to share an issue brief on blue economy in the Bay of Bengal.

This issue brief is a synthesis of the main report, where we gathered an outcome of a year-long collaborative effort with key actors in the blue economy sector over three interactive workshops with these.

The Bay of Bengal is one of the essential parts of the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) based on its high potential for geopolitical and geoeconomics’ views. The IOR is a multi-polar region that contributes to more than half of the world’s GDP and population, with the prime focus centered on the ocean.

Its ecosystems and natural resources form a unique asset for the region’s countries and territories. Therefore, understanding and measuring the economic activity tied to this asset is essential for sustainably growing its affected economies and livelihoods.

The Bridge Tank and the French Development Agency (AFD) co-hosted three workshops from November 2021 to March 2022, with the actors from Bangladesh, India and Sri Lanka to discuss and exchange knowledge on how these countries organize their blue economy strategies.

In particular, the conversation delved into how they define their blue economy strategies and propose solutions:

  • Assess the physical impacts of climate change on the sustainability of coastal and ocean ecosystems and the fishery resource,
  • Adapt to these impacts on the evolutions of coastal ecosystems, social communities and value chains.

With the active participation of various centers from the region, collaborative discussions demonstrated a high level of know-how, technicality and knowledge in terms of collecting information on climate, sea-level rise, fishery resources and implementing projects to address local issues.

Our key points are the following:

  • Common outcomes across the three countries have been identified, which provide a common basis for further discussion and identifying projects with a regional common resource dimension and/or global public good:
    • a large amount of scientific and think tank activity in the region and technical know-how,
    • a major challenge to have these contributions coordinated at the regional level and not progress in a silo,
    • questions on the way research may translate into policy making at the national and regional level.
  • It is necessary to understand how the blue economy is formalized at the national level and how it gets translated at the very bottom level, as well as the regional level. There is no monitoring, verification and transparency tool to support the deployment of an effective and efficient blue economy.
  • What sort of an impact on the larger population will climate transition have on the blue economy policies?
  • The multiplicity of stakeholders is an issue for coordination improvement across the value chain of the blue economy leading to fragmentation of the decision and actions.

Read our issue brief here.

European tour OMVS – The Bridge Tank for the promotion of hydrodiplomacy

The Bridge Tank has partnered with the OMVS (Senegal River Development Organization) for a European tour to promote hydro-diplomacy which took place from June 9 to 24, 2022 in Geneva, Oslo, The Hague, Paris and Brussels. Hamed SEMEGA, High Commissioner of the OMVS and member of the Board du Bridge Tank, and Joël RUET, President of the Bridge Tank, met with many interlocutors to discuss topics related to hydrodiplomacy: the international law of international water resources, sustainable hydro-development, peace built by the shared management of cross-border basins, or even the preservation of the headwaters of major rivers.

The Bridge Tank and the OMVS have decided to organize a workshop on these issues next fall with all the actors with whom they have exchanged and by extending it to many political leaders and associations.

This tour follows the joint work carried out during the World Water Forum 2022, in which The Bridge Tank was associated. The OMVS was then honored with the Hassan II Grand Prize for water. According to the jury, the West African organization based in Dakar, which brings together Mali, Mauritania, Senegal and Guinea, was distinguished for its action in favor of the “achievement of water and food security” of the greater basin. cross-border, but also for its action for “peace, prosperity and territorial development” of its member countries. Hydrodevelopment and hydrodiplomacy have indeed been at the heart of the organization’s model. The OMVS has, in fact, operated for more than 50 years independently of national or international tensions in the region it covers; it served as a model for the revitalization of its sister organization for the Gambia River, and the organization regularly receives visits from river organizations from all over the world, including Central Asia.

Water issues, in particular those around basins, are generally tackled in a utilitarian approach, i.e. through access to water. This vision is consensual within international organizations and at international events. However, the pessimistic evolution of aquifer ecosystems impacted by climate change raises the question of the sustainability of these resources.

It is in this perspective, rooted in international and UN legal aspects, that the delegation began its tour in Geneva during the conference “Lessons and perspectives on water cooperation for Africa and Europe: from the Forum from Dakar in 2022 to the United Nations Water Conference in 2023 at the Palais des Nations. Mr. Semega thus presented the work and the potential of the OMVS, which is often recognized as a model organization, on the organizational, political, legal and investment levels.

To deepen the subject, the delegation then met Professor Mads Adenaes, specialist in international law at the University of Oslo in Norway. This exchange was an opportunity to discuss the perspectives of international water law. They insisted on the fact that water must be approached in a holistic way, as a common good, that is to say that water must no longer only be an object of rivalry between powers, but be a good vital common to share. This is what basin organizations seek to advocate, which do not focus on the state scale, but on the resource scale.

In terms of hydrodevelopment, water is a major element of ecosystems, societies and economies, which is why it is necessary for their proper development. Mr. Semega had the opportunity to discuss with actors from the world of development, in particular Mrs. Marie-Noëlle Reboulet, President of GERES and Mr. Pierre Jacquemot, President of the Initiatives Group, whose core business is energy solidarity, Climate and Social Affairs and Mr. Lars Andreas Lunde, Head of the Nature and Climate Section of the Norwegian Development Agency, NORAD. These structures have made it possible to draw the following conclusion: a multitude of solutions exist on the ground, with a strong bottom-up dimension, which requires greater knowledge, consultation and coordination to act and share know-how.

The discussions were fruitful to the point of organizing a new meeting with GERES and the Initiatives Group of which the OMVS is a member, in the coming weeks. These discussions were also able to continue thanks to the organization of a side event in Brussels, by The Bridge Tank and the OMVS, during the “Africa Energy Forum” on the theme “Water-energy infrastructure for peace in the Sahel”, in the presence of Minister Amal Mint Maouloud, former Mauritanian Minister of Equipment and Transport, Mr. Abdoulaye Dia, Managing Director of SEMAF/OMVS and Mr. Romain Cres, Economic Development Specialist within GERES.

The actions of the OMVS are carried out in favor of peace, since according to the High Commissioner “whoever knows how to share water, can share everything”. This message was repeated many times during the European tour, in particular during the meeting with the Prime Minister, Jean-Pierre Raffarin, President of Leaders for Peace.

Mr. Raffarin and Mr. Semega agreed on the importance and role of basin organizations in contributing to hydrodiplomacy and peace in the world. Hydrodiplomacy has a more global dimension than hydropolitics, which remains reserved for States. Hydrodiplomacy underlines the idea that the management of water and basins is no longer the business of the States, but of everyone around a resource within the territories.

On this subject, The Bridge Tank was at the initiative of a working lunch between the High Commissioner and Mr. Erik Orsenna, President of the Initiative for the Future of the Great Rivers (IAGF) in the presence of influential personalities in the field around the situation of natural resources in West Africa and hydrodiplomacy in the Senegal River Basin, on the occasion of which our Board Member Ambassador Stéphane Gompertz and Me Jean-Claude Beaujour were present.

Last but not least, the delegation held working meetings with the Norwegian Cooperation Agency, the Ministry of International Cooperation in The Hague, IOWater and the International Network of Basin Operators and the STOA infrastructure investment fund in Paris.

On its own continent, the OMVS has been entrusted, within the International Association of River Basin Operators, with the technical secretariat of the association bringing together its active members on the African continent. As peace goes through development but also through democratic decisions, the OMVS has set up a committee of river basin users, an original body for open consultation with civil society. Aware of its responsibilities, the OMVS, an organization which was created in 1972, is today engaged in a forward-looking reflection on its future, and on the future of its contribution to Africa and to the world.

In this context, the exchange tour with peers, experts and leaders from all areas of society in all the capitals of peace and the areas of river innovation, nature conservation and in particular source river ecosystems, aims to share the results of this success story with stakeholders from the United Nations GA, the African Union, the academic and civil society communities, work with which The Bridge Tank is associated.

Our board member, Pranjal Sharma presents his book “Stronger Together” to the President of Rwanda, Paul Kagame

On the occasion of the 26th Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, which is being held in Kigali, Rwanda from June 20-25, 2022, our board member, Mr. Pranjal Sharma met with the President of Rwanda, Mr. Paul Kagame. During this meeting, he presented and offered him his latest book entitled “Stronger Together: A Collection of Essays on Rising Rwanda and Strategic Partnership with India” co-authored with Mr. Abhilash Puljal.

World Ocean Day: Towards Another, Cooperative, « Indo-Pacific? »

Special report by The Bridge Tank and AFD: Sharing knowledge, experience & tools in the Blue Economy, the example of the Bay of Bengal

CHASING THE ECOLOGICAL AND SOCIAL SIDE OF THE INDO-PACIFIC

One observes a global trend to focus on the Indo-Pacific, mainly emphasizing security-diplomatic aspects. However, in view of the pessimistic evolution of climate change and oceanic systems, the notions of development and protection of unique ecosystems must be at the heart of the debates in a strategic region, whose shores host hundreds of millions of people, as the Bay of Bengal.

On the occasion of World Ocean Day on June 8, The Bridge Tank and the French Development Agency – Agence Française de Développement (AFD) are pleased to share a special report on the rise and positive monitoring of the blue economy in the Bay of Bengal, focusing on Bangladesh, India and Sri Lanka.

This report is an outcome of a year-long collaborative effort with key actors in the blue economy sector over three interactive workshops with these.

ORIGIN, MOTIVATION AND FINDINGS OF THE REPORT

The blue economy is much debated by policymakers. However, it hardly gathers a scientific consensus on its definition or perimeter of issues, neither in physical nor social sciences. Still, it exists, and seldom are its de facto actors properly investigated or listened to systematically and reported upon in an accessible manner.

We created an arena for dialogue and gathered a catalog of best practices:

  • In a context where the blue economy is also the other facet of security concerns around the notion of the “Indo-Pacific” position, we wanted to provide an open, trusted space of informed speech across the geographies of South Asia and France.
  • Development over shared resources must start with shared data. By collecting the expertise of local actors, we wished to give them a voice to participate in the global awareness of ocean issues. Their contribution unveiled a trove of skills and wills, which is at the origin of our report. First cooperations our exercise led to, give hope on the possibility of joint creation and management of data systems to safeguard fish and coastal resources, to develop sustainable infrastructure and regional scientific knowledge. If at all, one lesson stands out: local centres have more scientific skills and knowledge on their zone of the tropics than global organisations have, and surely the latter can learn a lot from the former on the future of global oceans.

The main objective of World Ocean Day is to raise awareness on collective actions to a larger audience. By sharing our work, we aim to participate in this collective action that supports healthy oceans and its resources, and further strengthen the global impetus to protect at least 30% of our lands, waters and ocean by 2030 (30×30). Read our report here

About the writers: The Bridge Tank is an international, not-for-profit, independent think tank specializing in emerging economies and affiliated to the G20, global industries, sustainable development and global public goods, partnering with the French bilateral aid in this series of workshop. The AFD funds, supports and accelerates the transitions to a fairer and more sustainable world. This collaboration is a part of AFD’s strategic thinking and development and financing interventions in the region.

The Bridge Tank joins the Think 7 in Berlin

The Think7 Summit, which took place on May 23-24 2022 in Berlin, is organized by the German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE) and the Global Solutions Initiative (GSI), as think tanks mandated for the Think7 process during the German G7 presidency in 2022. It is organized in partnership with the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES), the German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP) and the Aspen Institute Germany. More than 300 participants attended this event, mainly in-person.

Dr. Joël Ruet, President, The Bridge Tank was among the participants, notably on the first day, where the task forces in which The Bridge Tank is active were discussed: Climate and Environment, Sustainable Economic Recovery and International cooperation for the global common good.

In the presence of the German Federal Chancellor, Olaf Scholz, the event was organized around the recommendations developed in the T7 communiqué, which are the following:

  1. Strong alliances for a sustainable planet.
  2. Setting the course for economic stability and transformation in response to the consequences of the COVID-19.
  3. Enhanced preparedness for healthy lives.
  4. Stronger together.
  5. Sustainable investments in a better future.

Among many interesting high level guests, Joël Ruet paid particular attention to the words of Minister Wolfgang Schmidt, Head of the Federal Chancellery underlying the importance of inviting Africa to G7 decisions. Also, Mr. Ruet shared the idea developed by Dennis J. Snower, President, Global Solutions Initiative (GSI) and Co-Chair Think7 Germany that insisted on the necessity of strengthening the multilateralism as the world order has recently been brutalized by Russian in the War in Ukraine. In the same idea, Dr. Sachin Chaturvedi, Director General, Research and Information System for Developing Countries (RIS) explained that international institutions, such as G7 and G20 have to adapt and be revisited in terms of delivery regarding the geopolitical context.

Joël Ruet participates in a webinar on “COP26 and the Brahmaputra: A New Perspective based on the Underwater Domain Awareness (UDA) Framework”

Our President, Joël Ruet participated in the webinar on May 5th, 2022 on the topic “COP26 and the Brahmaputra: A New Perspective Based on the Underwater Domain Awareness (UDA) Framework”. This is the 5th in a series of webinars organized by the Maritime Research Center and M/S NirDhwani Technology Pvt Ltd.

His participation was an opportunity to continue the conversation on the blue economy started with key stakeholders, such as the Maritime Research Center.

As there are many solutions on « environmental engineering » coming from the global south towards river aspects, in particular from the Indo-African side, Joël Ruet suggested enhancing cross learning in terms of environment and engineering, notably water storage for hydroelectricity, navigation regulation and velocity regulation can have a positive impact on avoiding disasters and protecting biodiversity. At the condition of a step by step learning. The COP26 that dealt about integration of environment to adaptation and adaptation to mitigation towards cobenefits and nature based solutions opened an avenue and Joel Ruet has high hopes for the next COP which will be held in Egypt in November. Thanks to the various exchanges about the Brahmaputra region, he was able to appreciate the vast amount of knowledge that should be shared during COP 27 – “We must learn from the experience of Brahmaputra”.

OpEd: Risky Business: The U.S. Should Rethink Business With Kazakhstan

An article written by our President, Joël Ruet about Kazakhstan’s current and growing challenge to fight corruption that undermines foreign investment and the country’s socio-economic development, was published in the media Entrepreneur.com. He warns that “despite the Kazakh government’s public campaign to attract foreign investors […] it will need to implement fundamental changes, and that starts with taking anti-corruption seriously and honoring agreements with foreign investors. Until then, U.S. investors should rethink the risk of doing business in Kazakhstan.”

The Bridge Tank at the BOAO Forum for Asia 2022: Promote Energy Integration and Build Green World

The BOAO 2022 Forum was held from April 20 to 22 in a hybrid mode, aiming to conduct an open dialogue in a post-COVID world and on the prospects of common development in the world of tomorrow.

Since 2018, The Bridge Tank has participated in the annual “Chinese Davos” event. Our President, Joel Ruet spoke at a high-level panel in the presence of Mr. Ali Obaid Al Dhaheri, Ambassador of the United Arab Emirates to China, Mr. Baodong Li, Secretary General, BOAO Forum and former Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs of China, Mr. Mr. Jizhen Liu, Academician of Chinese Academy of Engineering and Director of State Key Laboratory of Alternate Electrical Power System with Renewable Energy Sources, Mr. Hailiang Song, President of China Energy Engineering Group Co, Mr. Jianhua Hu, President of China Merchants Group and Mr. Haiping Xiang, Chief Engineer of China National Energy Administration.

In his speech, Joël Ruet spoke about the global issues related to energy integration and trajectories. He stressed the importance of “deep decarbonation technologies” in accelerating net zero emissions by 2035-2040. Until then, he added that each country or territory will have a role to play to have its own “transition trajectory”, not only adding renewable energies but also integrating them into the networks with a more rational and efficient use.

Joël Ruet addressed the issue of adaptation, which must no longer be looked separately from other issues. He illustrated his remarks through the example of carbon sinks, which have be created from optimized ecosystems everywhere, not only in forests, but also in savannahs or mangroves.

Dr. Ruet also demonstrated that energy trajectories are already low-carbon, which is particularly the case for Africa and most of the G77 countries. It is important that these trajectories are recognized as such and therefore funded by the North and that technology and know-how transfers are funded accordingly.

In response to the question of how to implement global support to energy trajectories of the global south, the President of The Bridge Tank proposed two solutions: first, allow the South to manage itself with more funding to create local champions, keep the gas trade open to them, and ensure that their carbon sinks are recognized as an incentive to develop them; and second, enable their local financial entities to play a larger role by recognizing that “risks” are over rated there in comparison to actually high profitability.

As in the 2021 edition, Joël Ruet was one of the three French speakers, representing the circle of Think Tanks, alongside Jean-Pierre Raffarin and Henry Giscard D’Estaing, who respectively represented the political and economic worlds.

Read here the agenda of the BOAO Forum 2022.

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